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Postseason Positional Analysis Part VII: Linebackers

| January 19th, 2016

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We start on the inside.

The Bears had five inside linebackers this season but only three are worthy of discussion. LaRoy Reynolds & Jonathan Anderson are the type of bottom-roster boys an organization needs but there’s also about 125 players like them circulating across the league. Whether they return or not in 2016 won’t make the teapot whistle.

Three questions about the others.

How Much Do the Coaches Really Like Shea McClellin?

Shea is a smart player and the coaches went out of their way throughout 2015 to applaud his impact on the defense. He also, once again, struggled to remain healthy for any substantial period of time and his level of play dropped precipitously once returning to the field.

Here’s how I’d summarize McClellin. He is constantly in position to make plays but rarely makes them. Is that a lack of physical ability? Maybe. Is that a lack of instincts? Definitely. Were his struggles this season more the result of a change to ANOTHER new position? Possibly.

Unlike many who’d like to see the Bears cut the Shea line, I’d like to see him return and continue to develop at middle linebacker. He won’t be expensive or require a lengthy deal so why not? At worst he’s a third linebacker off the bench who can also call signals.

How Much Stake Do the Coaches Put Into John Timu’s Finish?

Adrian Peterson had 18 rushes for 63 yards. Doug Martin had 17 carries for 49 yards. Ameer Abdullah had a more respectable 10 carries for 44 yards. This was a poor rush defense all season long that turned into a solid unit once Timu ascended into the starting lineup. Does this mean the Bears should move forward with Timu cemented in the middle? Of course not. But barring a big splurge in free agency, Timu should come to Bourbonnais with confidence.

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Across The Middle With Andrew Dannehy

| January 6th, 2016

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• “Of course everybody’s frustrated, man. We were 6-10, that’s not acceptable.” That quote in itself may not mean a whole lot to most, but, to me I see it as Ryan Pace not losing track of the fact that he is in charge of a bad team. There seem to be quite a few people who have lost track of that fact. The pressure is on Pace and John Fox to make sure 6-10 doesn’t happen again and they know it.

• Going 1-7 at home isn’t OK, but five of the losses came to playoff teams and another came with a preseason lineup against a team that went 6-2 down the stretch. I’m not going to freak out about it that much.

• All of the talk about Jay Cutler’s decrease in interceptions was pretty dumb. You saw on Sunday, a lot of times, the interceptions are more about dumb luck. He’s just as good now as he’s always been.

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FrontRowTickets.com Game Preview: And So Begins the Final Four…

| December 11th, 2015

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Chicago Bears Schedule

(Battling a demon virus this week so the game preview is abbreviated.)

Robbie Gould let the wind out of the sails of Bears fans last Sunday, shanking a game-winning chip shot worse than early 2015 Tiger Woods. But I’d expect the crowd to be fired up for the Redskins Sunday – a team that desperately needs the game.

THE GAME POEM

On the last bar stool to the left he sat,

For fifteen years in an orange and blue hat

A power lifter and reverend to his right,

And an endless amount of draught Coors Light

Fifteen years goes by in a blink

With the same stool, same people, same drink

Yesterday it was a title he’d choose

Now he’d like em to win as many as they lose

THOUGHTS ON THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS

  • Washington is every bit as bad a road team as San Francisco, losing all five of their road games by a combined 162-86.
  • Injuries across the defensive front (Stephen Paea, Jason Hatcher…etc) have severely limited the Redskins pass rush. On Monday night against the wretched Matt Cassel the ‘Skins managed just a single sack and (by my count) no additional hits. If they couldn’t muster a rush in that must-win, prime time affair, you’d have to be surprised to see them come after Cutler consistently Sunday.
  • Kirk Cousins at home and Kirk Cousins on the road are vastly different individuals.

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A THOUGHT ON THE NAME “REDSKINS”

It’s a football team. Why not just change it? Seriously, who gives a shit? I find the whole idea of these teams having mascots at all ridiculous. Oh, it’s the Chicago BEARS! They’re a bunch of a guys. Why are they bears?

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Bears Dominate Rams on the Road: Rapid Fire Recap

| November 16th, 2015

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Did anyone see this coming? Did anyone see the Bears going into an opposing stadium and thoroughly dominating the home team? Seriously. Any home team. The Bears were underdogs by more than a touchdown and played like Super Bowl contenders. It was impressive. Rapid fire…

– Jeremy Langford is a star. Speed, toughness, the works. If you wondered if Matt Forte was returning in 2016, you can stop wondering. Langford and Carey are a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield.

– Jay Cutler just continued to do what he’s done all season, except Sunday he was able to pile up some stats to support his excellent play. What’s been most remarkable about Cutler’s season is he is doing all this with a makeshift offensive line and without his receiving corps ever being healthy at the same time.

– Shea McClellin looked as good at middle linebacker as he’s looked all year – attacking the line of scrimmage and tackling in the hole. Easy to see what Fox and Fangio like so much about him at the position.

– McClellin’s strip of Tre Mason remind you of anyone? Sure as hell did for me.

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Audibles From the Long Snapper: Shea Needed, Random Thoughts & Halloween!

| October 27th, 2015

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SHEA AND ANTREL MISSED

Yes, Shea McClellin is still learning a new position in the middle of a complicated defense. And yes, Antrel Rolle is on the flipside of his football playing coin. But both are pivotal when it comes to essential elements of playing defense in the NFL. Per Friend of the Blog Adam Jahns:

“Shea McClellin, obviously, getting him back in there at some point, as well as Antrel, from a leadership standpoint, getting guys lined up and understanding how to execute our defense is key,” Fox said. “We’ve got some guys that we’re leaning on right now that will just get better with time until those guys can get back in the lineup.”

If McClellin returns and the defense improves, expect him in the lineup beyond January 3, 2015.

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Second Preseason (I Didn’t Call It Meaningless) Game Opening Thread

| August 22nd, 2015

Today we will  ask five questions for this evening as the Bears and Colts embark upon a useless (couldn’t help myself) exercise wherein each team tries not to get injured.

#5 How will the depth chart shake up behind Matt Forte at running back, and does Senorise Perry have a real chance to be productive on offense for the Bears?

#4 Is Sherrick McManis going to find his way into the starting lineup by Labor Day?

#3 Am I still dreaming or is this Shea McClellin stuff still happening?

#2 Do the Bears have a capable second safety on the roster?

#1 Are the days of Jordan Mills at right tackle severely numbered?

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Three Things You Might Be Able to See During the Second Meaningless Game Saturday Night

| August 20th, 2015

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You read the headline. You don’t need a lede.

#1 Shea McClellin in Coverage

Andrew Luck loves the tight end position and has two pretty good ones in Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen. Luck attacks the middle of the field with both players and McClellin’s physical purview is now that very same region.

Here is a situation where NFL coaches should truly embrace the practice nature of these games. Why doesn’t John Fox call over to Chuck Pagano and say, “Hey Chuck, do me a favor. Once or twice over the first few drives, attack my middle linebacker in the passing game. We’re trying to see what he has in coverage.” Then Chuck could turn around and do the same. This would actually serve to make both teams better.

Instead they’ll all call a bunch of random plays and hope the players they need to evaluate get involved. Someone will get hurt for the year and fans will still argue with me about the importance of summertime reps.

Side note: Rookie Adrian Amos starting is also of interest but what he does Saturday night means very little. The Bears aren’t playing Amos because they want to. They’re playing Amos because, well, what’s the difference?

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Thoughts on the First Preseason Game

| August 14th, 2015

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General Note

Having not watched the game live, I was following along on Twitter and with a few friends via text message. It was absolutely astounding the level of hysteria permeating the Tweets whilst my friends were all texting me things like, “they look ok” or “not much to actually learn from this crap”. When I woke up this morning and saw some of the work by the illustrious Chicago media, I expected to be viewing a train wreck. That was not the case. My thoughts on the game last night were overall positive.

Three Thoughts on the Offense…

  • Jay Cutler to Eddie Royal is going to be this offense’s security blanket. Expect the Bears to start a lot of drives with quick outs to put them in second and six or less.
  • Will Montgomery is a HUGE upgrade at center. He attacked Suh at the line of scrimmage on several plays and frustrated arguably one of the best defenders in the sport.

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Chicago Bears Open Preseason Tonight With Meaningless Contest Against Miami Dolphins

| August 13th, 2015

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Things you can actually watch tonight if you have very little else to do:

  • Every person in Bourbonnais has mentioned Willie Young’s struggles to adapt to a new role in the defense. Might be interesting to see just how long the coaching staff leaves Young on the field. (This also begs the question, as many have asked, why don’t the Bears simply shop Young to a straight-forward 4-3 team with an edge rush need? What’s the purpose of having him go through this adaptation?)
  • Is anyone convinced Jordan Mills will be the starting right tackle after Labor Day? Might be interesting to see who plays well at the tackle spot once the starters have left the field, hopefully after 3 plays.
  • Is this Shea McClellin stuff real?
  • Injuries. Injuries are the only significant element of preseason games. Anybody who tells you otherwise is selling you something.

Enjoy.

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